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INTRODUCTION

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book-length study on the cultural landscape of ordinary medieval Muslims, probed them all, concluding that the ‘two-tiered model of cultural discourse’, in the context of Islamic studies, cannot already be declared ‘passé’. Furthermore, he nds it usefully “challenging the conventional and simplistic assumption that long before our contemporary ‘mass culture’ there has been just one monolithic (Islamic, in this case) culture to which rulers and peasants, scholars and illiterate folk alike belonged.” Shoshan wishes to acknowledge that scholars had their own discourse, and that “the simple zuwwår ˜pilgrims·” were excluded from it, yet without ruling out “a multi-directional ow of culture.”83 While I do not wish to argue against the notion that the Muslim religious elite (the ulamå) had a discourse of their own, as implied by Shoshan’s and Burke’s approaches, nor for the notion that one monolithic culture embraced all—I would like to argue about the degree of the exclusion of commoners from the discourse of scholars on the one hand, and about the extent of their elimination from the practices of commoners on the other hand. The models suggested by Peter Burke (in 1978)84 and Roger Chartier (1984) seem to me particularly interesting and applicative. Burke employs the terms coined by the anthropologist Robert Redeld, “great tradition, little tradition” to offer a model of an a-symmetrical relationship: while the great tradition is accessible only to the elite, the little tradition, oral and informal in nature, is accessible to all, and common to the different social groups. Hence the elite is, as it were, bilingual, possessing one additional language of its own. Roger Chartier shifts the debate to the various strategies of appropriation and use of ‘cultural products’: texts and modes of behavior. He writes: Æ‘Popular’ religion is at the same time acculturated and acculturating, therefore . . . we must replace the study of cultural sets

arbitrarily” (ibid., 7), according to the conviction of the author that at this stage a fuller, book-length picture is impossible. 83 Shoshan, review, 545. See also Berkey, “Popular Culture,” 135–137, for a discussion of Shoshan’s view, juxtaposed to those of Taylor and Karamustafa. Emil Homerin notes that most scholars of Islam in the Maml¨k period agree that the twotiered model is inaccurate and misleading (Homerin, “Study of Islam,” 29). 84 Burke, Popular Culture, 24–28. Later, Burke came to the conclusion that the two-tiered model does not fall short of its alternatives, albeit with the awareness that boundaries shift, and that many intermediate situations exist (Burke, “Popular Culture”).

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Jsrc 007 talmon heller islamic piety in medieval syria mosques, cemeteries and sermons under the zan  

Jsrc 007 talmon heller islamic piety in medieval syria mosques, cemeteries and sermons under the zan  

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